WagerBop predicted less blow-outs in the Wild Card Round than handicappers expected, and it looks like a prediction “win” that the biggest margin-of-victory in any of Wild Card Weekend’s 6 NFL playoff games was 12 points, courtesy of New Orleans vs visiting Chicago.
But in truth, many Week 18 battles felt like blow-outs waiting to get out.
There was even a potential lopsided-loss victim among the Wild Card winners! The L.A. Rams lost a backup QB to a 1st-half injury, except that the backup QB was the starter on a day when the “starting” QB was fresh out of surgery and tossing wild passes at CenturyLink Field. But the Seattle Seahawks were in no condition to take advantage, as a sluggish host offense was corralled by the Rams’ highly-touted defense as Goff gutted-out the victory.
Meanwhile, it’s not as if the Chicago Bears covered the point spread at New Orleans, though “Under” gamblers were as happy as Jimmy Graham DFS managers at day’s end. At least it never felt like Tampa Bay would beat Washington by 30 points, though it also never felt like the Buccaneers were in serious trouble.
Nobody took the Pittsburgh’s (-6) line seriously vs Cleveland. I hope.
As for the Buffalo Bills and Baltimore Ravens, I don’t think anyone expected the former to have an easy time vs Indianapolis, and the Tennessee Titans made another contender’s playoff debut interesting by playing the kind of clean, disciplined game vs Baltimore that was missing from the Music City repertoire too often in late fall and winter. Like the Dallas Cowboys of the 1970s (or Kansas City’s run in the 2019-20 postseason), the superior and more-physical side took its time and asserted itself over 4 quarters, as the Ravens legitimized a 5-game streak to end the regular season and brought Derrick Henry’s historic campaign to a sour end.
Still, there’s a notable trend of tight playoff games, or at least NFL playoff favorites unable to run away on the scoreboard when certain ‘cappers expect them to. As the postseason field has been winnowed to 8 clubs in the NFC and AFC Divisional Round pairings this weekend, we can’t exactly expect that trend to die away. Opponents are tougher now, and underdogs more dangerous.
That doesn’t mean a given favorite isn’t a good pick ATS in the Divisional Round…but it means that we’d better have solid reasons for predicting such an outcome to occur. Such as the likely outcome at Lambeau Field this Saturday, a setting that could be more of a “frozen tundra” than usual.
Here’s a look at 4 main NFL Divisional Round betting markets, and lines on a couple of jazzy Divisional Round prop bets courtesy of our pals at FanDuel.
L.A. Rams at Green Bay Packers (-6.5)
Baltimore Ravens at Buffalo Bills (O/U (49.5))
Cleveland Browns at Kansas City Chiefs (-10)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at New Orleans Saints (O/U (52))
Prop Bet #1: Highest-Scoring Team in Divisional Round
Prop #2 (Futures) Conference to Win Super Bowl 55 in February
Kurt has authored close to 1000 stories covering football, soccer, basketball, baseball, ice hockey, prize-fighting and the Olympic Games. Kurt posted a 61% win rate on 200+ college and NFL gridiron picks last season. He muses about High School football on social media as The Gridiron Geek.